May 5, 2017

When she joined The Outline from Gizmodo Media Group a few weeks ago, Executive Editor Katie Drummond expressed a desire to start breaking more news at the five-month old digital media startup.

Today, she’s hiring a scoopy cybersecurity reporter from her former employer to make good on that pledge.

William Turton, the 19-year-old who’s been covering tech and gaming since he was 14, is joining The Outline as a staff writer covering the intersection of tech, power and Silicon Valley, Drummond said.

“I love to break news, and I think a reporter like him can break some news and start conversations about the power space around Silicon Valley and things of that nature,” she said.

Turton, who joined Gizmodo last year after covering hacking and privacy for The Daily Dot, said he’s excited about his next step.

“I’m going to the Outline because I’m excited about the idea of doing better stories,” Turton said. “Everyone at The Outline wants to try to break the mold of a lot of online journalism, and I’m really excited to give it a shot. I’m also really excited about working with the super sharp team they’ve already hired.”

Turton, who skipped college to move to New York and throw himself into journalism full-time, is joining The Outline in its infancy. The startup, which has a mobile-friendly site that creates the uncanny impression of a digital magazine, is aimed at the nexus of power, culture and the future and now has between 13 and 15 employees on the editorial side.

Although he declined to provide specific figures, Outline founder Joshua Topolsky said the site now counts a monthly audience in “the millions” and has received encouraging response from advertisers. In a letter from the editor at the end of last month, Topolsky wrote that readers are sticking around for longreads like The Outline’s exposé of the wellness-industrial complex and the monolithic rise of Google snippets.

Specifically, he said, average engaged time on Outline stories for the month of April was more than three minutes per visit. People who swipe through The Outline’s “cardicles” often stop to look at each one. Mobile engagement on ads is about nine times the industry average and clickthroughs are 25 times the industry average, he said.

“Every day, I see somebody say, ‘Oh my god, I really like the ads on The Outline,” Topolsky said. “Which to me is super bizarre. Because in my decade of doing this in media, the only thing I’ve ever seen people tweet about an ad is ‘Oh my god, I hate this ad.'”

So far, The Outline is publishing a handful of stories per day, but the staff isn’t in a hurry to ramp up production for the sake of it, Topolsky said. Rather, they’ll curate stories where they don’t have something original to add and focus on producing entirely original work.

“I think, increasingly, you’ll see us do a lot more original reporting and breaking stories,” he said. “And some really smart contextualizing around stories that are out there so you can see a deeper view of what’s going on in the news.”

And they’ll continue producing stories for audiences where they are — video on Facebook, for example, or The Outline’s daily and weekly podcasts for audio junkies.

“I’m very bullish on distributed, if it’s smart distributed,” he said.

Correction: A previous version of this story said The Outline was using Facebook Live. In fact, it is using Facebook for video stories.

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Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism…
Benjamin Mullin

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